Being a lover of all things raw, green and juicy, I tend to get a little sad when the warmer months come to an end, and I have to start replacing my daily green juices and smoothies with more warming foods. Unfortunately, these amazing nutrient powerhouses are just too cooling for most bodies during the cold weather months (you may notice that you just feel colder in your hands and feet, or feel more spacey or anxious when you eat a lot of raw foods or drink green juices in the winter). But the fall is still a lovely middle ground. It’s starting to cool, and there is still tons of great seasonal produce to rock in some delicious green concoctions, as long as you add some warming ingredients that add a little bite!
You know by now that you’ve gotta eat those greens. Dark leafies are the single healthiest group of foods out there. Loaded with nutrients, they are major health powerhouses, and the best part is, you can eat them as much as you want! If you’re not doing so already, make greens a big priority in your eating — shooting for a full serving at least twice a day. Salads, cooked greens, greens in your eggs, greens tossed into soup, and as a side for pretty much anything you’re eating — they are super easy to make into a daily habit.
Spring is slowly approaching, and it is truly the perfect time for a detox. Who doesn’t want to get rid of those toxins, feeling fresh and new when the sun starts heating everything up in just a couple of weeks? The changing seasons and the signs of new life sprouting all around us inspire better eating and getting organized, as well as serving as a reminder that summer is right around the corner. Whether your reason to detoxify is to support your immune system, improve your digestion, prevent disease, or to shed some of those extra pounds from the holidays, detoxing the body (and your whole life!) is a great way to welcome the new season.
One of the body’s many remarkable features is that when you target one organ or elimination system for cleansing (for example, the liver, colon, kidneys, lymph, or blood), the others contribute to the detoxification process.
Full body cleanses that force toxins to be eliminated from several organs at once are stressful to the body and can leave you feeling really yucky. They can cause severe reactions, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or skin problems such as acne. A full body detox might be more suitable for the experienced “detoxer” meaning a person who has had a clean lifestyle and diet free of alcohol, cigarette smoke, artificial ingredients and chemicals, to begin with. For the newbie on the other hand, I would recommend starting with one organ or one elimination system to detoxify, for example, the liver or colon, so it doesn’t hit you too hard.
If you prefer to go all in your first time, you should definitely consult a nutritionist, naturopath, homeopath or herbalist for help to determine what is the most appropriate cleanse for you since there really is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to detoxification. If you have any questions about which approach you should take, or if you want to start a personalized cleanse, I recommend scheduling a free consultation with Holistic Health Counselor Natasha Uspensky.
In this article I will talk about top ten detox foods, as well as a couple of gentle cleanses that work wonders for you to get ready for the most amazing season of the year, as well as that sundress just waiting for you in the back of the closet. If you don’t feel like doing a hardcore detox or fast, these 10 foods can spring clean your body just enough and keep refreshing your vital parts all year around. Just take these three steps:
- “Eat clean,” avoiding processed foods and chemical additives, and shoot for organic produce whenever possible.
- Stay well hydrated by drinking lots of filtered water.
- Include some of these 10 foods in several meals throughout the week, or better yet, every day!
The Top 10 Detox Foods:
- Leafy green vegetables. Eat them raw in a salad, throw them into a broth, steam them and mix with rice or add to an omelet, or puree them into juices. The chlorophyll in greens helps swab out environmental toxins (heavy metals, pesticides). It’s also an all-around liver protector, which your liver needs since it’s your major domo detoxifier.
- Lemons. Fresh lemonade made with filtered water will keep you hydrated, and its vitamin C helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that’s easily flushed away. (Add some pureed greens to further boost your C vitamin intake). A great detoxifying practice is sipping a mug of hot water with fresh squeezed lemon juice first thing when you wake up (see below).
- Watercress. This is an excellent addition to all kinds of salads, soups, and sandwiches. Those little green leaves have a diuretic effect that helps the flushing process. Plus watercress is a mineral goldmine since it is rich in iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Garlic. Add it to everything such as salads, sauces, soups, and spreads for a great taste. In addition to the heart-friendly bulb’s cardio benefits, it also activates liver enzymes (make sure to not eat it before a date; garlic breath is not sexy!) Research also indicates that garlic diminishes a process that creates cancer-causing compounds in your body. B
- Green tea. This antioxidant-rich drink (See our post on the amazing benefits of green tea) is one of the healthiest ways to get more antioxidants into your system. It also contains catechins, which speed up liver activity, making it ideal for detoxing.
- Broccoli sprouts. They pack 20 times more cancer-fighting, enzyme-stimulating activity into each bite than the actual broccoli vegetable we are more familiar with. Research suggests that eating the sprouts (they taste like radishes!) kills off H. Pylori bacteria that causes stomach irritation and ulcers.
- Sesame seeds. They are said to protect the liver cells from the damaging effects of alcohol and other chemicals. For a concentrated form, try tahini, the yummy sesame seed paste that goes so well with so many dishes!
- Cabbage. There are two main types of detoxifying enzymes in the liver, and this potent veggie helps activate both of them. It’s the largest member of the Brassica veggie family, all of which delivers colon-cancer fighting isothicyanates and vitamin C. Coleslaw, anyone?
- Psyllium. This plant’s bursting with soluble fiber, which absorbs toxins as well as cholesterol and helps clear them out (amazing!). Stir powdered psyllium into juice to help cleanse your colon, or have whole psyllium husk sprinkled on top your quinoa porridge for breakfast. I would recommend starting with a small amount and gradually increase your dose as your GI tract becomes used to it. It really is a great detox food, because trust me, it flushes it all out!
- Fruits, fruits, fruits. They’re full of almost all the good things listed above — vitamin C, fiber, nutritious fluids, and assorted antioxidants. Besides, nothing tastes better than a ripe mango, perfect pear, or fresh berries.
Ultimate Detox Recipe: Easy Garlic-Sesame Salad
Toss dark green leafy vegetables in hot, garlicky oil for a cleansing yet delicious dish!
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. spinach, stemmed, or 1 lb. Swiss chard, or 1 lb. mixture of spinach and watercress
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. sesame seeds for garnish
Warm oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir until lightly browned, about 45 seconds. Add greens (do in two batches if necessary) and toss until just wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
If you want to go a little bit further, you should keep reading since I will recommend some gentle cleanses that aren’t likely to cause any severe reactions; but with this being said, don’t underestimate their potency. They effectively work to eliminate stored toxins such as chemicals, drug residues, microbes, even toxic emotions from your cells. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of pure water throughout the day to boost the cleansing process.
- Basic Daily Detox. Water with lemon. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into an eight-ounce glass of room temperature or warm water. Drink a glass each morning upon rising. For best results, wait about 20 minutes before eating or drinking anything else (including your morning coffee or tea). Repeat daily for a minimum of three weeks, but take a break after about six weeks.
- Another Basic Daily Detox. Water with liquid chlorophyll. Purchase a bottle of liquid chlorophyll (flavored or unflavored). Add one to two tablespoons to an eight-ounce glass of water at least once a day. Repeat daily for a minimum of three weeks, but take a break after about six weeks.
- Love Your Liver. Liver-Cleansing Vegetable Cocktail: In a juicer, juice two or three carrots, one large beet, one apple, and some spirulina powder. Add one glass of pure water, mix well, and enjoy.
- Tummy Tonics. Raw Cabbage Juice: Juice half of a raw cabbage (any type of cabbage). It’s surprisingly sweet and tastes much better than you expect it to. Ginger & Apple Juice: Juice two apples and some ginger. Add a cup of water to dilute and enjoy.
- Gut Wrencher. Colon Cleansing Smoothie: Lose inches from your belly and clean out your colon at the same time with this delicious smoothie. In a blender, add one cup of water, half a cup of fresh or frozen raspberries or strawberries, ½ of cup of almond milk, half a banana, one tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and 300 mg magnesium powder. For extra fiber, you can add one teaspoon of chia seeds, hemp seeds, psyllium, and/or spirulina.
- Urinary System Cleanse (Kidneys/Bladder). Potassium Broth: Fill a large pot with a cup of potato peelings, a cup of carrot peelings, one whole beet (chopped), a cup of onions (chopped), an entire head of garlic (peeled and roughly chopped or crushed), one or two celery stalks (chopped) and a handful of dark leafy greens. Add enough pure water to cover the vegetables and simmer on a low temperature for one to two hours. Strain and pour the broth into a pitcher, or simply dip a mug into the pot and sip on broth throughout the day. Signs that it’s working: an increased amount of urine that smells like ammonia.
Common signs that toxins are being eliminated during a detox can include headaches, muscle aches, foul smelling breath, stool and urine, acne and skin breakouts, and emotional fluxes (such as irritability or bouts of crying) so make sure you don’t have a lot on your schedule while doing the detox. If these symptoms occur, don’t stop the detox. It just shows it is actually working, and the unpleasantness will soon be replaced with energy and vibrancy, leaving you feeling amazing and like a new person!